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What can your firm learn from transfer deadline day?


Transfer deadline day is about rumour, innuendo, Harry Redknapp being interviewed through his car window and a host of televisual cliches. But it is also a remarkable reminder of the importance of planning.

Nearly a quarter of all money changing hands was spent on the last day of the transfer window. That is a staggering £140m of £630m laid out over the entire summer spent in one day.

While great for agents and the 24-hour news cycle, leaving it to the last minute can have a seriously detrimental impact on the bottom line.

Manchester United forked out £27.5m on Marouane Fellaini, who would have cost £23.5m had business been transacted before his buyout clause expired just a month ago. And while Arsenal’s £42.5m signing, Ozil, was a masterstroke the clumsy attempts to land a last-minute striker has triggered the return of Nicklas Bendtner.

For those unfamiliar, Nicklas, in a series of psychometric tests matching brain power to football ability, scored a reported 10 out of nine in self-perceived competence, making him the most self-confident footballer in the league (slightly at odds with his three league goals scored last season).

Planning pays dividends.

Many advisory businesses have gone to considerable lengths to re-align their models to the new world and strip out any cost in delivering advice that does not directly drive value for the client.

But there remains some way to go for many. Most firms have been grown organically from adviser owners doing what they do best – advising.

But a business that is worth something today has to comprise a heck of a lot more than simply a decent recurring income. 

This may require some significant personnel changes, technology integration, the embedding of centralised investment propositions, all fully aligned to distinct client segments.

However, that depends first on successfully capturing what has been learnt from all sources (both the soft insights from personal experiences and the experiences of others throughout the organisation and the hard data from market research and the like).

More importantly, though, it is synthesising that learning into a clear vision and direction.

Much of the lack of rigour stems, I suspect, from the mistaken thought that strategic planning is the same as strategic thinking. Unfortunately strategic planning often spoils strategic thinking, causing managers and owners to confuse real vision with the manipulation of numbers. 

And this confusion lies at the heart of the issue: “The most successful strategies are visions, not plans” (Harvard Business Review) – which is hard to hear as the owner of a business called So Here’s The Plan.

Phil Wickenden is managing director of So Here’s The Plan

Frances O Grady TUC 480



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